After demanding that its lease be renewed in perpetuity, Madison Square Garden was "only" given a 15-year agreement from the city's Planning Commission. Chairwoman Amanda Burden said, "The best possible outcome would be a relocated Madison Square Garden."
Madison Square Garden issued a statement:
We are extremely disappointed in today’s vote, especially because MSG meets all of the requirements for the permit. We hoped and expected that City Planning, which currently issues virtually all special permits without term limits, would base its decision on the merits of the permit application. Instead, the Garden - a key driver of the city’s economy that supports thousands of jobs, and which is currently investing nearly $1 billion of its own money in its arena - is effectively being held hostage by a decision by public officials 50 years ago to demolish the original Penn Station. Companies must be able to invest in their businesses and make long-term commitments with confidence in the fairness and predictability of the regulatory environment. City Planning’s decision to assign an arbitrary expiration to the permit is inappropriate, unfair and unwarranted. We look forward to working with the City Council in the final phase of this process.
Cue JD and the Straight Shot singing "Let It Roll."
Advocacy group Alliance for a New Penn Station was glad that only a 15-year lease was granted, because it might lead the way to a re-imagined and less depressing Penn Station—and a better sports and entertainment arena. However, it is "deeply concerned" about a provision that "would allow Madison Square Garden to obtain a permit in perpetuity by striking a deal with the railroads that operate within Penn Station. Such an agreement would only require the signoff of the planning department, avoiding any public review of a deal that could permanently saddle our city and region with an overcrowded, grim transit hub," adding that the City Council should "respond with a solution that doesn’t permanently condemn the city to a dismal Penn Station when it takes up Madison Square Garden’s permit application next month."
Robert Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association and the co-founder of the group, said, "This would essentially allow four people in a room to decide for themselves what is best for commuters, the future of the area and the vitality of the city - requiring only a rubber-stamp approval from planners without further public review or City Council oversight." And the other co-founder, Vin Cipolla, president of Municipal Art Society, said, "It seems like a step backward into the dark old days, and contradicts the open planning process the Bloomberg administration has championed."
The Municipal Art Society has asked four architecture firms—Diller Scofidio + Renfro, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, SHoP Architects and SOM—to reconceive Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. The designs will be unveiled next week.